Springtide Rosalia 2021 - Rosalia #14) Last Dance

[Toggle Names]

Description: What is the meaning of a mortal life? According to some, it is the freedom that makes existence worth enduring. And yet others still disagree. In th guise of a wizened hunter, the great warlord Kira finds the self-described greatest of House Alucard's guests in the midst of an ancient countess' ballroom. It is there, with her very life on the line, that she sheds every falsehood and facade and finds out what her time on this earth has amounted to. "The cruel Alucard gave you to me. But I only wish to be kind."

"To think that the Alucards would hope to entertain me with such drivel."

- https://i.imgur.com/6Q148mG.jpg -
The ballroom is harsh in its dark. Though it obviously has not seen use in centuries, it has been at the very least, cleaned. Tapestries woven of ancient lovers and tables carved of ancient wood older than mankind's first godless nights opening out into the dancefloor proper. Dominated by a chandelier sculpture depicting a broken world, what little light there is spills out onto that dancefloor in ghastly haunting rills. The ten foot tall mirrors that rib the walls are ghostly and narrow as they stretch out towards the ceilings to emphasize the haunting architecture. Each is held by great golden legs, some made to resemble sirens, others soaring birds, and yet others the promises of young maidens to capture and ensorcell the imagination's vanity.

Of course they would be. The countess Karnstein's tastes trended greatly in line with his own, a fact he knew for a fact the diminutive heiress of House Alucard wouldn't have missed.

He can be felt long before he ever comes. The precursors of his arrival are telltale. The smouldering black that rills out of each unseen corner, the dark mists of 'night's wind' fills the room with the smell of open fields, banishing the ancient air that threatened to choke away his one true interest in this affair. There is the sound of a multitude of flapping wings, and what few candles and lanterns have been pre-emptively lit around the dining arrangement extinguish long before the vampire lord ever arrives, leaving only the asymmetric light cast by the chandelier and midnight's wan light through the windows to give anything for the eye to latch onto.

Slowly, the world inverts, and the scent of blood takes over.
It is heady and intoxicating, the sensation that fills the room.

It has been a long time since anything has truly ever frightened Kira. A lifetime of hardship and suffering had forced her into so many situations where her very survival was on the line that she had stopped bothering to keep track well before hitting her twentieth birthday. She has seen the cruelty born of human malice and greed. She has experienced pain that made her want to slit her own throat if only to bring it to a blissful end. She has stood in the presence of people so vile and twisted that it took every shred of willpower she possessed not to wretch.

And yet, those terrors, no matter how dark and chilling were the product of the mortal world. People can be ruthless and uncaring, driven to stomp on others without a care or thought for want of power or due to sheer madness. Those are things she understood, things she could quantify and explain. This castle is nothing of the sort and it terrifies her in a way that she cannot fully understand.

Her trip those many years ago into the Majigen had exposed her to some inkling of what she might expect. Bizarre alien landscapes painted with all the wrong colors and twisted into foul mockeries of things she vaguely recognized from Earth. She had come expecting to find more of the same. Instead, what she got was this vast sprawling anachronism.

The dimensions of the castle were simply impossible. No matter how far she traveled or which window she peered out of the dull gray architecture seemed to stretch on forever. For nearly ten hours she had wandered in vast empty halls that seemed to be home only to dust mites and cobwebs. There had been promises of grand feasts and large celebrations but thus far she had encountered no one.

Paranoia slowly started to creep up from the corner of her mind as hour after hour passed without even the faintest hint of other life forms. Had she been tricked? Was this merely some ruse to lure her into an endless labyrinth from which she could never escape? Despite her firm grounding in rational thought, it was impossible to dismiss the obviously supernatural nature of the castle. Nothing this large could ever exist in reality. The sheer amount of time and effort it would take to build such an edifice defied imagination. And yet every single room that she came across was fully stocked with elaborate, if dusty, furniture of the highest quality.

Worst of all, she had been drawn into this abyssal demesne without her faithful companion. Though Zhenya had been at her side as they tromped through the spooky old woods towards the location indicated on the invitation, she was not transported here by whatever means of arcane teleportation had been employed. Was her lover even now wandering these very same halls as she did, alone and confused? Perhaps she had just been left behind - the invitation had only been addressed to Kira, after all. If so, she should be relatively safe for the time being. In either case, it did her little good to focus on the possibilities. Right now, she needed to worry about getting herself out of this place.

Having long since settled on the policy of only moving forward without wasting time to explore the many side passages and vacant rooms that littered the halls, Kira pauses as she comes to the newest obstacle in her path. A towering set of double doors composed of some heavy ancient wood loom tall before her at the end of a long hallway. Until now she has encountered nothing nearly as grand or obvious as this. That alone is enough to fill her with a surge of faint hope. If she can just make contact with one of the other guests she might be able to get enough information to at least get her bearings.

A hand instinctively goes to the heavy dark scar that covers the left side of her face. It is an ugly thing, an old burn wound earned from an encounter with some fel beast many years ago. At least, that's the story she tells to the other hunters to explain it. In truth, it is little more than a bit of cosmetic trickery, a disguise meant to subtly alter the lines of her face and break up the familiar features for anyone who might otherwise recognize her. Her long dirty blonde hair, normally tied up in a rough ponytail, hangs loose at her back, its golden locks dyed a dull gray that seems to shimmer almost like silver in the wan moonlight. Her military fatigues have been replaced with an equally gray business suit of excellent quality that clings to her toned frame with carefully tailored neatness. The pair of crimson red contact lens conceal the lizard-like slits of her pupils from view, hiding away the final and most telling detail of her recent transformation.

Tonight, she is not Kira Volkov, but Dorothy Winter; an accomplished hunter and board member of the Hunter's Guild. It is in this capacity that she has ventured into this abode of monsters. They wish to call her out? Then she can do naught but answer in kind.

The familiar heavy weight of the shotgun resting loosely on the strap at her side gives her courage as she leans against the massive doors, putting her weight into the shove. The ancient hinges creak and groan with protest, resisting her efforts despite her enhanced strength, but after a few moments of persistence they finally give way and swing grudgingly open onto a scene of unearthly beauty.

The woman's eyes sweep slowly around the vast ballroom as she takes in its grand cavernous design. Her jaw drops open slightly in obvious awe at the sheer size and majesty of the place, forgetting for a few brief moments the steadily growing fear that was starting to well up in the pit of her stomach. What she would give to have a place as grand and beautiful as this to call her own.

Her gawking comes to a sudden end as the air stirs around her in unnatural ways. No windows are present within this room to suggest the origins of any such wild breeze, nor does the addition of madly flapping wings do anything to help ease her apprehension. When the lights go out her hand flies to the weapon at her side immediately, the tell-tale click of a shotgun shell being loaded into the chamber echoing through the vast open space.

Her teeth clench tightly to keep from chattering as the biting cold scythes through her loose clothing. At least, that's the reason she tells herself she's doing it, and definitely not because she doesn't want anyone to hear her teeth chattering in sudden terror.

"What are you," she hisses, pointing the weapon into the darkness. Her back hits the nearest wall and she gives a start, only now realizing she was instinctively moving towards it. The pungent aroma of blood washes over her a moment later and it all but floors her as it invades her enhanced olfactory senses, sending her mind spinning. "D-damn it! Show yourself!"

"Come now, young one. You know what I am."

The vicious and piercing voice comes from every corner of the ballroom, as if ghosts haunted every path into and out of this space. It is undeniably masculine, and though he is endlessly inviting, every word he whispers drips and pools on the exquisite floors with violent intent. It is, simply, as if he feeds with words alone, that even hearing his bemusement is intensity enough for him to wrap a claw around your trim, exposed throat and --

A bat flutters past, screeching audibly as 'Dorothy Winter' moves back, a crazed target for that shotgun, though the sights will never quite settle on one set of wings as the creature flutters away. How many are there? One? Two? Four? By the time one can think to count, the creature's barely audible shrieking is lost in the drowning black.

"As well as you know yourself. In the fiber of your very being."

The vast and benthic tenebrous expanse above settles on her strong shoulders, unlike anywhere else in the castle. Even the powers of 'Alucard' would not give this sensation, a literal ocean of night weighing on her body, lapping at her hips and slowly, inexorably rising even as the weight of it pushes down. The power of 'a darkstalker lord' is something wholly different from the werewolves and spirits, curiosities that stalk the night. The curling black mist that crawls across the ballroom floor licks at her ankles as the weight slowly threatens to drown her. There are those that stalk the night, and there are those that own it.

"You have lived all of your life for this, the terminal moment where you realize that every moment prior has only been for me. Every fear. Every mercy. Every charity. Every pain. Every atrocity. All of it has been to make yourself more exquisite to my taste. Every moment you have lived, from the womb to this lonely now, you have existed only to satiate the night for one fleeting hour. Glorious."

The mirrors come to life around her. Many of them might as well be nightmares, great monstrous black winged horrors pulling every part of her from her body. Others depict the shadow of a castle creeping over the world, causing men and women to go mad in the night, descending into blood-fueled orgies of depraved bacchanalia. Others yet still are incomprehensible, bubbles of black flesh in incomprehensible worlds filled with the shreds and sounds of battle the closer once gets to them. But, as she passes the mirrors she sees -- there are those that show her without an ounce of makeup, without her suit, without her scars. She wears the dark hooded cloaks of the night warriors, and her eyes are --

"I am your lord, and though I will not yield even if you beg, I am a kind master."

A bat peels its way from the mirror, a reflection that becomes a reality. A red-eyed monster of a thing, it flutters past Dorothy. It may be gunned down -- trivially so. But it is not the only one. The mirrors shift noticeably, as several begin to show their true reflections, the center of the ballroom. Bats that do not - yet - exist in this world flutter behind the glass, before fluttering through the mirrors as if they were open doorways. First the one. Then another. Then a pair. Then a score. Then a hundred. Bats flood from every mirror in the ballroom, some mirrors smashing into long rows of sharp glass and spilling out into the room with the force and weight of the black vermin. They chitter into a whirling cacophony, and not a single one has a twin in the mirrors -- even as they meld, liquid-like, into a great and grandiose curtain in the ballroom's midst. They flutter, until their wings are seamless with the rippling of a great and grand cloak, the cape he throws about him never quite seeming to obey the rush of night winds that cuts through the ballroom from the madness. With a snap, the great glowing golden eyes of a hunter open in the midst of the black cataract in the center of the room, eyes that not a single mirror in the room will show.

"Kneel down and swear to me your final moments," the vampire lord Maximoff commands, "So that I may grant you the sweetness of serving as a more luscious feast for the damned..!!"

COMBATSYS: Demitri has started a fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |=------\-------\0          Demitri

The shotgun's barrel whirls around as the first bat screeches past her, leveling on the creature, little more than shadowy blur in the darkened hall. The weapon tracks its path across the room with predatory intensity, the hunter's vision apparently much less impaired by the oppressive darkness than might have first been apparent. She does not fire, her finger steady on the trigger despite the tremble that runs down her spine as the unnatural presence begins to weigh upon her. There are too many years of experience facing down her fears for her to crack so easily and she had come here knowing full well the sort of horrors that might await her.

Still, she can't help but admit that whatever is toying around with her is certainly unnerving. Humans have always possessed a primitive fear of the dark. No matter how old you get, no matter how brave you are, there's always that creeping sense of dread that seems to seep into the recesses of one's thoughts when they find themselves alone against the unknown. It is easy to dismiss the nightmares that rise up from an overly active imagination when in familiar surroundings, but here, in this ancient castle of unnatural power those specters prove awfully tenacious.

The woman slumps as the pressure of undiluted night crushes down against her like a heavy weight, her weapon dipping towards the floor. She struggles to fight against it, pushing back with her body and her will. Fighting comes naturally to a warrior like her. She's spent her entire life fighting, waging war against the cruelty of the world to carve a place out for herself. She is a killer, a hunter, a warlord. Whatever vile monster lurks in the darkness, she's not just going to curl up into a ball and start whimpering before it even shows its face!

Snarling with a guttural ferocity, Kira drags the shotgun back up to her shoulder and levels it at the darkness again, her eyes sweeping across the vast room.

"You sure like the sound of your own voice..." she mutters. "You want a taste of me? Come get it, you freak!"

When the first mirror ripples to life, Kira sweeps her weapon towards it, a burst of brilliant yellow flame illuminating the ancient hall for a fraction of a second. A solid slug smashes into the reflective surface, scattering whatever horrific vision it contained into a million tiny fragments before they can properly form. And yet, there are so many more. The mercenary's eyes widen as she finds her gaze drawn to a dozen scenes of impossible nightmares. She watches herself be torn apart over and over by demonic creatures, each scene playing out with stomach churning detail. She tries to scream only to realize that she's stopped breathing, her breath frozen at the maddening imagery.

After several long moments of silent slack-jawed staring, Kira's jaw suddenly clenches again as fresh molten rage wells up inside of her. Everyone reacts to fear differently. Some people freeze up, their minds unable to function in the face of such paralyzing trauma. Other people break down into weeping pathetic wretches or simply turn and flee, unable to think about anything but escaping the source of that fear.

Kira gets mad. She hates being afraid. She hates it more than anything else in the entire world. All her life she's done everything in power to ensure that she was the strongest and deadliest thing around precisely because she never wanted to have to fear anything ever again. For a time she thought she had achieved that goal but the past few years had put the lie to her confidence, revealing that there are things far more terrifying that her lurking in the night.

With that purifying hate comes an element of clarity. She has experienced something like this presence before, when the vampire lord Jedah came to lay his grievances with her bold incursion into the Makai at her feet. Or, to be more accurate, on her neck. Lord Dohma's crushing will had a similar feel to it, though his was a far more clinical and precise thing, alien and insane in its single-minded intensity. But that dark monstrous hunger was still there, lurking underneath the surface of the placid facade.

Letting out a bellow of rage, Kira lunges for the next closest mirror, practically hurling herself across the room in her fury. The butt of her weapon slams into the shimmering surface even as another one of the vampire lord's twisted visions of the future plays out, once more showering the floor with shattered fragments of ruined glass. Again and again, the mercenary throws herself at the vile portents, scattering the dark visions of possible destruction across the ground in a frenzy of motion.

Yet, when she comes to the last mirror, she finds herself facing an image of herself. Unlike the others, she has not been shredded apart into bits of gory meat. Instead, she appears whole and unblemished and... without the disguise. A chill runs down her spine as the truth displayed in the mirror calls out her deception more vividly than any accusation ever could. But far more disturbing than that is the look in her shade's eyes. Eager. Maddened.


Kira staggers backwards as one of the bats inside the image flies out at her, exploding from the surface of the mirror as if passing through a body of water. She swings at it with her weapon, attempting to smash it to the ground, but the thing nimbly weaves around her clumsy strike and flutters past her towards the center of the room. Dozens more mirrors scattered around the exterior of the dining hall suddenly glimmer with unnatural life as countless more of the screeching vermin drag themselves into reality through the fel portals.

Once more she whirls to face this new threat but with the realization of her foe's identity now firmly in mind she manages to dispel much of the fear. Taking several bold steps towards the whirling mass of chittering bats, she levels her weapon at the slowly coalescing form of her tormentor. A sneer pulls at the corner of her lips, her teeth baring in primal challenge as she hisses a single word like a curse.


Manifested in his true form, the image of the darkling lord is just as imposing and awesome as the chilling touch of his presence. Kira's mind focuses intently on the hatred she has for such abominations, using it as an anchor to remain firmly rooted against the overwhelming pressure of his dark majesty. Her sneer slowly morphs into a cocky smile as the vampire lays out his demands, though her gaze remains fixed pointedly on the chest of his muscular chest rather than meet those pools of glowing power.

"So you want a taste of me, do you? I have a better idea. Eat this!"

The barrel of the shotgun shifts ever so slightly, its gaping maw pointing at the center mass of the evil noble. Another blossom of yellow flame stains the darkness as a fresh wad of cold iron explodes towards him. Of course, any hunter would be quite aware that mere metal would have little effect on something as powerful and ancient as the demon in front of her. Which is precisely why every single shell is thoroughly soaked in a mixture of holy water, garlic, and salt and engraved with tiny crosses. She isn't quite sure if that last little detail actually does anything to increase the potency of her shots considering her distinct lack of faith - but it certainly can't hurt either.

COMBATSYS: Kira Volkov has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Kira Volkov      0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0          Demitri

COMBATSYS: Kira Volkov successfully hits Demitri with Painkiller.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Kira Volkov      0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0          Demitri

She doesn't meet his eyes. It's a good strategy. More than one mortal has been taken by Demitri with just a subtle glance.

As he takes full form, the room's space seems to contract madly around him, as the bats begin to find in him their focal point, squalling as they wing around him in chaotic, ill-borne patterns. Focusing on his body, it's easy to make the observation that it's hard to tell where his physical form ends and his clothing begins, as the fine nobleman's silks are smooth against the power of his form, limned in the heavy muscle of apex predators. Even moreso the line is blurred as his cloak sluices though the dark, part of the ocean that even now drags on the warlord's rage-heavy shoulders, part of the wings of some great beast of a kind. There is an organic, unnatural way to it all, the way he moves and the way no part of him catches on her eye for overlong.

Each mirror shattered is one less future. For all of the ease in which Demitri shatters them, each one taken is a feat, an impossibly tall thing. Still, the powerful rage drives her, bringing down hundreds of pounds of glass to the floor, nightmares slain with the butt of a shotgun. But yet for all of the mirrors she breaks, the one that holds her to task is the one that recognizes her more than any other.

And it is this one that will capture his favor.

The noble's cloak catches flame as Kira's gun ejects a yellow-hot bolt into it, the irons that would be otherwise near-useless against him bolstered by every trick in the mortal's dreams festooned against him. Not that much of it does any good against him, a rictus kit of superstition and pointless vanities of the clergy, to barely threaten even the least of his kind. But every so often, the artifice of true belief carries with it the slightest -- ever slightest -- hint of native talent. And it is this that ignites Demitri, the vampire dramatically arcing upward as he burns, causing him to careen unnaturally into the open air as if held in the fist of the sun itself. Burning for moments before, the vampire lord finally, with a vicious breath of aggravation, casts off the flame with an encompassing wave of his cloak. With it, he drinks away the light with a shimmering aura all his own. "Ha!" he laughs bitterly, power beginning to awaken in his form as seething moonlight crawls from every pore. "Glory to the magnificence of the naive artisans!" he lauds in appreciation, speaking well of the one who is almost assuredly dead by now.

"So you refuse your master's gifts, instead choosing to flash me a defiant eye," Demitri reflects, neither standing nor floating as he suspends in mid-air over the spiteful woman. These is a touch of bemusement, of malice in his voice that itself seduces her with the idea that she can have some -- any -- power over him if she only keeps feeling.

"But then, anger and hatred becomes you so, morsel. I will let you feel it at my pleasure. Now, come and play with me awhile..."

Even as he speaks, the vampire is beginning to unravel from reality, as if his physical existence were just a manifestation of his will. He sluices into and out of the dark in the space of a virgin's breath, the dark curling around him as he drops directly onto the one who called herself 'hunter,' his cloak winding into a spearpoint as he drills down deep to find the core of her, becoming a living stake as he moves to pin her to the ground beneath the night onyx, and if he finds even the barest inch of her flesh and her blood, he will not stop until she screams.

COMBATSYS: Kira Volkov blocks Demitri's Bat Spin.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Kira Volkov      0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0          Demitri

"You think I'm angry? Just you wait, asshole, and I'll show you what anger looks like!"

The clack of the shotgun's pump sounds out as she loads another chamber into the breach, the expended red shell still smoking as it sails down to the ground at her feet. The weapon steadies in her hand as she takes aim again but the muzzle flash merely highlights the fact that the vampire lord is no longer there, bleeding like an ink stain across reality as he shifts positions.

The mercenary's survival instincts kick in the moment she realizes her error. Whirling around, she slams a forearm up towards the descending nightmare catching the tip of his bizarre drill-like cape square on the center. The sleeve of her fancy suit all but explodes into tatters under the force of the spiraling assault, a fate that no doubt will be shared by the tender mortal flesh underneath. Instead, the destruction of her jacket reveals the cold gleam of polished steel.

It had been a right pain in the ass to develop the necessary blend of durability and weight when trying to come up with a form of body armor she could wear underneath such light clothes. Anything too bulky would be exceedingly obvious and likely impede her movement, while anything too thin would likely offer so little protection that she might as well not bother.

In the end, she'd looked to the past rather than the future to solve her quandary. A thin layer of intricately crafted chainmail wraps her arm in rings so small that they almost seem to be a form of fabric. The metal twists and sparks against the unnatural blade of the vampire lord's torturous attack for a few brief moments but it holds out long enough for Kira to shove herself to the side, allowing Demitri's wicked plunge to bury itself in the floor rather than her body.

"Nobody owns me," she snarls at him, emboldened by the knowledge that her weapons seem to hurt him, even if only slightly. Reaching behind her back, she withdraws the long blade hidden underneath her jacket, a wicked combat knife of blackened steel sharpened to a molecular edge. Every ounce of her fury and fear pours into the strike as she swings it point-down at the vampire's smug face, her eyes wild as she bellows at him in challenge.


COMBATSYS: Demitri blocks Kira Volkov's Fierce Punch ES.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Kira Volkov      0/-------/-======|=====--\-------\0          Demitri

"Ahaha, freedom. The lie mortals tell themselves to give their lives meaning..."

The vampiric lord whirls to a stop once he hits the tile of the floor, his arms unfolding as his cape unfurls around him, bits and pieces of the metal that the rills of his cape tore off of her arm clinking around his boots. He doesn't face her, his back to the hunter. Even now, the focused aura of his moon-derived power bleeds off of him in long, lurid lines visible to the naked eye. He looks at the tiny chainmail links with a dour expression, as if he tasted something ill at the tip of his tongue and needed a sip of cool water to refresh his palate.

"No matter how expensive the clothes you mortals wear, or how many medals and accolades you give one another, you will always be just playthings for the night. Children, trading bits of fur and pence in the filthy streets!"

The hunter/warlord's bellowing howl fills a sizable portion of the ballroom, but in the end is swallowed up by the expanse as she falls on Demitri, the very personification of the guillotine. Even an old and arrogant soul such as Maximoff must himself marvel at the unabashed will the warlord shows in trying to stab him in the face, and the meeting is cataclysmic, her body spearing into Demitri's as she lunges with an outstretched arm and a knife far, far sharper than the vampire hunters managed in centuries past. He raises a hand.

The hammer smack of steel on flesh can be heard as he catches her hand in his own, the glow of light radiating from him bathing her suit in enslaved moonlight. The molecular edge bites into the webbing of his hand, but for the light licking off of its surface might as well be trying to cut through a brick. Drips of his blood pattering the ground between them, he holds her there a moment, a slow and accomodating smile shown to her, showing her the growing sharpness of his own fangs, knives in their own right.

"Rage, anger, indignation. The fig leaves that hide your beautiful shame. Does it please you to be so alone, at the service and whim of the vampires?"

Demitri, for all of the layers of lies this 'Dorothy' has built up to hide herself and everything she's done to avoid being at anyone else's mercy, looks at her as if she hadn't spent a minute doing so. He looks at her as if he sees right through it all; as if he sees her for who she is. He looks at her as if she is less than who she is, even worse so. Even for all of the specificity of her invitation, and all of her preparations, and all of her notoriety... when she finds herself in his grasp, in the middle of the insane dance, it is truly difficult to tell if he cares, even in the slightest.

"Let me console you," the vampire lord all but purrs.

And then his cloak turns to hard, caging blades, burying spears of black around the two. The woman that is Kira has only moments to escape Demitri's grasp before he cages her in close to him, limb by limb. If she can't, he will drive his hand deep into her hairline and sink brutal fangs into her neck. The bloodletting will begin, in sips and sups. She will feel it, every drop that leaves her going to something else, something beyond.

COMBATSYS: Demitri successfully hits Kira Volkov with Light Pleasure EX.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Kira Volkov      1/-----==/=======|======-\-------\0          Demitri

Kira's eyes go wide as the blade connects with its target and simply stops dead. Impossible. That edge has cleaved through titanium! Diamond! The hardest substances known to mankind. The sheer laws of physics dictate that a blade as sharp as the one she wields cannot be stopped by anything for long. Damnit! She hates this supernatural bullshit never playing by the rules that she understands.

The hunter glares at the vampire in impotent fury, continuing to press hard against the blade despite how futile it is. That one little trickle of blood is like a wet gleam of faint hope to her, evidence that it isn't her methods that lack merit, merely the power behind them. As has become quite common in recent days, she finds herself made painfully aware of the limitations of her mortal strength. Now matter how hard she seems to try, no matter what trials she endures for the sake of power, it's never enough to keep up.

The pale glow of Demitri's own sinister aura reveals the dreadful threat of those wicked fangs as they hungrily slide out. Some primitive ancient part of her brain starts to gibber in uncontrolled terror at the sight of those teeth, an old primal fear of being eaten by some horrible monster in the darkness gripping her heart in cold icy claws. The bottom falls out of her stomach, hatred melting away to sudden panic as she realizes what he plans to do.


She pushes hard against the blade, this time to try and hurl herself away against that seemingly impenetrable wall of light. Her body starts to respond to the mental command but the fear makes her slow, sluggish. Her legs seems to move as if trapped in quicksand, each step a Herculean struggle against some unyielding force of nature. There isn't any thought to trying to strike out against the creature of darkness in front of her as he closes the trap around her, only the desperate need to escape that malicious grin.

She fails.

The twisting amorphous power of the cloak moves fast, maybe even faster than she could have been were she not paralyzed with terror. Her back slams into the cold blackness of that otherworldly power and a bone-deep chill spreads throughout her flesh from the contact. What little strength she was able to muster before simply bleeds away as her body goes numb and stiff.

There is hardly any resistance at all when the vampire moves to claim his prize. Desperate wordless grunts slip through clenched teeth as Kira's head is pulled to the side, her long silvery hair brushed away to reveal the soft pale flesh of her neck. There isn't any more gloating to be done on behalf of the dark lord. He simply takes what he is owed, what was already his to begin with, no matter what the mercenary seems to think otherwise.

A piercing a shriek of pain explodes from her lips as the fangs bite down into her jugular. She's endured a great many foul sensations before in her course of her life, debased herself in ways most people couldn't comprehend in order to claw her way to power. But the feeling of those demonic lips upon her flesh is the most chilling and unnerving thing that she has ever experienced.

Her scream dies out as the demon sups upon her strength, fading out with a pathetic whimper. She tries to lift the knife again, to strike out at his unprotected chest. Her fingers fail to respond properly, impotently clutching at the handle until her knuckles turn white. Even worse, as the moment drags on, she starts to experience something far worse than the searing pain - pleasure.

A heavy sensation starts to wash over her mind, a narcotic bliss of pure enjoyment. Each thunderous beat of her heart sends another wave of heady pleasure radiating out from the site of the bite as if Demitri's mere touch was enough to set her nerves on fire.

Slowly, the hand holding her shotgun loosens its grip and the weapon falls limply at her side, hanging from the strap over her shoulder. Inch by inch she reaches that empty hand up, her fingers crawling up the broad muscular chest of her captor as if tracing the contours of his impressive physique. When it reaches his collar, she gently lifts away from his flesh, fingers trembling as they move up towards his face as if to affectionately embrace the demon slowly killing her.

In a sudden shift of motion, however, Kira moves her hand towards her own body. It vanishes underneath the long hair and takes hold of the small bead-like earring dangling from her left ear. With a sharp tug, she plucks the orb free and holds it up next to the vampire's face, hovering only inches away from his hateful glowing eye.

"Fuck... off!"

Without warning, a dazzling burst of light and sound erupts in the mercenary's hand as the miniature flashbang detonates. A wave of crushing pressure designed to disorient and dazzle anyone caught in the blast washes over the both of them a point-blank.

Kira's spiteful command proves to be more than simple idle petulence. Her mouth remains open, the breath she expended muttering her curse already gone when the blast hits her. Without a pressure difference to work with all that's left is the light and sound. The former is easy enough to avoid, Demitri's head and her own closed eyelids blocking out most of it. The latter hurts - a lot - but the sudden jolt to her system seems to shake off whatever frigid hold the vampire's touch had over her. Hopefully, it managed to stun him long enough for her to slip free and regain her wits.

COMBATSYS: Demitri blocks Kira Volkov's Modern Warfare EX.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Kira Volkov      1/------=/=======|=======\-------\0          Demitri

There is a world no mortal has ever yet savored.

Being struck by the verve of the damned is an unholy sensation, and the nobility is what separates 'vampire' from the beasts. In the savannah, humans used to have unique fear of the lion stalking them, for they truly had no recourse to being eaten while their meat was still warm, watching as their murderer gnawed on something that used to serve some other purpose, only to find out it was simply food. A man could have his shoes stolen or his knives, but the hardest sensation to process at all is learning that even your meat itself has value, and that no part of you is immune to the baser instincts of mightier creatures who could simply take it from you.

Watching the vampire lord Demitri powerfully suck the life from that warlord in vast, huge pulls that take far more than her comparably diminutive frame could give, is a similar sensation. It can only be tempered by the electric pleasure he gives with his mad gift, a lash of night taken to her as if there was simply nothing separating her from any other beast. It makes his body hard to navigate, numbing and chilling her hands as she palms him to better give definition to what he does with her. Each draught he pulls is a brutal, full body affair that shifts the weight off the so-called Dorothy's feet to his hands and lips. Even in the dimming sensation in her fingertips, she can feel his muscle course with life and the warmth of her own blood under his cool flesh, giving him strength and excitement with the years of life he means to rip from her body.

And yet, for every moment he touches her, every second his hands are on her and his fangs are in her, her blood is replaced with the dark, climbing promise of eternity. The euphoria of being dead is a heady drug to turn away, and it takes every bit of will for her to fight him off, a last ditch effort produced iby something so simple as an earring, the glint of the bead being caught by his eye, half-lidded and reticent to peel himself away.

The resultant explosion hits Demitri like a fist, the vampire breaking -- with every convention in her blood whispering lies and madness to her still -- away from the intimate contact with preternatural speed for something of his size and displacement. Truthfully, he doesn't appear to move at all, at least not in the ways that one is used to, his boots never touching the ground as his cloak winds away from her, muscular as it splits and spreads at his back. And therein lies the glamour, as the cloak crazes about him.

His nobleman's cape casts a mad shadow over the ballroom, lapping droplets of dark that patter at his slave's feet. That shadow threatens to eclipse her once and again, as if his cloak had a taste for her body all its own. The mass of black flanking him makes his form indistinct and sinuous, the craze of fabric filling an unnaturally huge space in the otherwise cavernous room. The only thing that is absolutely clear is that the nobleman who broke with the woman only moments ago is not the same creature that stands now before her. What was once elegant clothing and fastidious jewellery is replaced by murderous, ink-black. Against the wash of darkness that his cloak spreads, it is hard to make out his exact displacement, only that it has grown by a head and a half - or more. If she looks closely, the warlord can see claws the length of a handspan barely in the cataract of night, and eyes that have gone from shining gold to mad red.

Her blood still drips from the whites of fangs the size of knives.

"Do you feel it," the vampire seethes openly, an incomprehensible immortal lust and anger hemohrraging in his voice, dovetailing with the seductive promise of ever more pain. The inexorable way he moves is as if the explosion had been pitched into the ocean of black instead of his face. He takes one step forward, and the weight of his body can be felt in the heart his guest was born to give to him. Slowly, the cloak gains fine lines and veins, the warlord's blood spreading through it slowly as the organic thing spreads into a set of great black demon wings, unfurling and opening to threaten the massive chandelier as he passes, each step revealing not the travelling boots of a Romanian noble but the talons of an incomprehensible predator.

"The anxiety of not being mine..." the huge demon hisses in a thousand voices, all meant for her. Even at distance, he whispers directly into Kira's blood, echoing off of and in places a human could never know they had until him. "Forcing me to show you the dark, only to know the truth: Every inch of you is my desmesne. Only a few can think to make the mistake of refusing me..."

Countless eyes begin to open, barely detectable in the dark spread of his wings. Slowly, the aura of moonlight begins to rise under his wings, spheres of light lighting the way, but never actually penetrating his tenebrous hide. A cacophony of writhing, squealing insanity spreads from his wings, flocks of moonlight-burning bats beam from under the cover of dark in a spiral of chaotic motion. They are burning, as if lit by the fires of Hell, and each in turn surges towards the one who belongs to him, to tear away every bit of her that stands beween them. He conjures these to pluck and feed their fill of her with the barest limit. If she does not runn, she will be torn into. She will be bitten. She will be bled. She will be stripped. She will be cut. She will be burned. Torment is the recompense for denying him, even once, even slightly.

"Perhaps you were meant to live this out forever!!"

COMBATSYS: Kira Volkov just-defends Demitri's Demon Flare EX!

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Kira Volkov      1/------=/=======|======-\-------\0          Demitri

Free from that tempting prison of pain, Kira lands in a loose sprawl of limbs on the elegant carpet a few feet away. For several long seconds it seems as if every fiber of her being has separated from the rest, each individual clump of sensation a colony of raw agonized nerve endings. Her ears rings with a tinny persistent pitch, the lingering roar of the explosion going off only inches from her own face all but deafening.

When she finally opens her eyes the room seems to pitch at an odd angle, twisting and tilting like she is flat on the deck of a capsizing ship. Shakily, she rolls onto her stomach, suddenly thankful that her guts are empty as it tries to tie itself into a complex knot in response. Pushing to her feet takes an effort of will but she does it, rising her first to one knee and then rest of the way, slowly and painfully, inch by inch.

By the time that the disorienting haze of the flash bang has started to fade, what stands in front of her is no longer a vaguely human creature but a nightmare given form. As if her terror itself has created an avatar out of the darkness it stands tall and twisted, an indistinct ink blot smeared across the canvas of reality. For a moment, she thinks that her vision must have gone blurry again, but even after blinking several times the dark silhouette doesn't get any clearer.

Not that she particularly laments that fact. With some grim certainty that she cannot place the source of, she's all but certain getting a clear look at whatever lurks behind that shadowy veil would most certainly drive her mad. Though, all things considered, winding up in the looney bin might not be the worst possible outcome to this encounter.

The thought of what dark fates potentially await her seems to remind her dazed mind that there are still a pair of gaping puncture wounds in her neck. Fresh searing pain lances into her as if her blood has become molten iron, whatever foul corruption that the vampire possesses now coursing through her veins. She does her best not to think about the obvious outcome of being bitten by a vampire lord. Legends were always pretty hazy on precisely what sort of circumstances are required for someone to become one of the undead, if passing on the curse is even done that way at all. She'll deal with that later, if it comes to it. For the moment, not dying it a little more of a pressing item on her agenda.

Pressing a hand against the wound to try and stem the flood of blood, the mercenary gathers up her shotgun with the other and wields it underarm in the general direction of the shadow beast. She isn't going to have particularly impressive aim like this but something that large is a fairly easy target. However, as she tries to level the weapon on Demitri once again, her vision wavers and she staggers heavily to one side, unable to keep her focus.


The haunting sound of voices legion hammers at her consciousness a moment later, all but bowling her over, forcing her to lean heavily on one of the vast tables scattered about the hall. Even through the wavering peel of the tinnitus still singing in her ears she can hear his voice as clearly as if it were originating in her own head, forceful, strong, and commanding.

Many years ago Kira had demanded that her faithful companion use the psychic gifts she had developed on the warlord herself. The only way to be prepared to defend herself against any sort of mental attack, she argued, was to experience them directly. She couldn't always count on Zhenya being at her side every moment of the day and trouble had a nasty habit of picking the most inconvenient moments to rear its ugly head.

The torment that her lover's psychic attack had inflicted on her mind seems like little more than particularly bad ice cream headache compared to the searing agony that claws at her mind now. An involuntary groan that can't seem to decide if it wants to express pain or pleasure escapes her lips as the demon punishes her for the impudence of fending off his inexorable advance.

Snarling with fresh outrage as her body rebels against her wishes, she does something foolish. The hand covering her wounds curls up, two fingers digging into the open holes. A scream of pure suffering explodes from her lungs as a wave of nauseating pain washes over her. She focuses on that pain, gathering it up like a heavy blanket and drapes herself in it, using it as a shield to ward off the twisted sensations trying to overpower her reason.

Her eyes snap open just in time to see the more physical aspect of his rebuke coming her way. Countless winged things, bats in shape but composed of the same inky midnight substance as the monster himself, pour of out of his outstretched wings in a torrent of flaming destruction. Her mind momentarily clear and focused through the shield of pain, she reacts almost instantly. A hand goes down to her waist, dipping beneath the hem of her jacket to fumble with something on her belt. Moments later a shimmering translucent field of brilliant cerulean light flares to life in a neon shell around her.

For a few brief seconds, the darkness is burned away, forced back into the recesses along the walls and under the ancient furniture as the short-lived shield blazes like a miniature star in the void. The hellish bats collide with the barrier with furious screeches of hate on their lips as they die upon the glowing wall of light. Each impact sends a ripple of white hot power across the surface of the shield as if someone were throwing stones into a lake but the aegis holds fast in the face of the demonic onslaught until the last of the screaming horrors has expended itself.

Kira wastes no time engaging in idle banter when the light of her ward finally dies away. Already in motion, she hurls herself over the table that she had only moments before been leaning against, using the elevated position to give her more distance when she leaps directly at Demitri in a seemingly suicidal charge.

The very idea that she might engage in hand-to-hand combat with something as twisted as this creature is almost laughable. And yet how many times in her life has she done things that people called insane? How often had her seeming disregard for basic reason caught people by surprise, thrown their expectations for a loop, and left her free to exploit their surprise? Perhaps this demon is far too old and powerful to fall for such a cheap ruse. But then again, perhaps not. It's not like she has many better plans.

Bellowing a guttural scream of wordless defiance, the human hurls herself at a living nightmare and tries to tackle it to the ground. While Demitri has the advantage in size and monsteryness, her training in the KGB had not overlooked the possibility that its operatives would find themselves pitted against someone larger than they.

She hits the vampire in the left shoulder, wrapping both arms around his massive joint like a circle. The momentum of her attack swings her up and around, a powerful kick of her legs aiding the effort to maneuver around onto his broad back. Pulling with all of the strength she can muster, Kira puts that weight and speed into trying to topple the titanic demon backwards and send him slamming to the ground as she scrambles not to be crushed beneath him.

COMBATSYS: Demitri endures Kira Volkov's Soldier of Fortune ES.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Kira Volkov      1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1          Demitri

Trying to shoot him at this range is almost laughable, and her lord does not move even as the slaver lifts the gun to face him, showing her the strength of the vampire nobility. Even if her view was full and hale, each saccade of the eye seems to see him moving to a different location, shifting to one side or the next, every so often being just a touch or a breath off from a critical hit. His wicked smile is the only sign that he is doing anything at all to her, anything at all to throw her off, make her doubt herself. It is a vicious cruelty that pushes Demitri to this, and all the things that follow.

Moments later, the ballroom is filled with squealing evil.

The titanic vampire lord takes one black step forward, the surge of bats gathering around his pet, swarming. Some, of course, stab past as little more than beams of light, yet others arc around his prey in graceful loops before settling. The light around her shines brightly against the fires borne from the demon world itself, a thin gossamer curtain the only protection remaining between her and being laid bare before Lord Maximoff. The flapping, squealing, burning morass she finds herself in does not abate as readily as most, and seems to respond only to the demon's will.

Darkly amused, his chuckle fills the vacuous ballroom as his hellish force tests every limit she has. The silver-haired child can feel him now, his venom deep inside of her, his bemusement rilling as pleasure in her bones, and it seems that he doesn't relent not because he is intent on breaking her defenses, but that he wants her to feel every moment of their time together. The protections she conjures will not clash with his fire for long, but he is a limitlessly patient creature when it suits him. "You are quite the nimble plaything, aren't you..."

His flames burn away only moments before the aegis surrounding her breaks, and the vampire waits, never moving while she runs to him, a gambit that leaves the vampire lord enticed. He does not, noticeably, try to elude her or play with her, as he very well could. As the tiny mortal vaults into the dark, the dark opens its arms wide to invite her in.

"I must admit, the bravery of mortals proves an enticing game!! --Cur!"

She impacts him, whipping her long body around long cords of black-threaded muscle like a fearless champion, hauling him off of his claws and into a freefall. But as she touches him, she finds that she enters a haze of blood surrounding him, thick enough to make the air thick on the tongue with each breath, to make it taste like sweet copper. Falling into him is dangerous beyond recompense, as he smashes into the ground and breaks, the whip of fabric slithering along his impact point as the vampire lord shatters into the blood mist, black-infused and cold as he pours along and after her, creeping along her legs and nipping at her heels as she scrambles away from an impact that lasted only an eyeblink.

"To you it is fanfare, but to the immortals, it is only laughable shivaree!!"

Black rills of fabric spill from the mist that pursues her, long lazy arcs of fabric chasing her down as Demitri whirls back into being from his demonic form, his cape spreading long and over her. He'll try to wrap her up right there, to encase her in a coffin of black with him as he whirls into the air. "NOW DANCE FOR ME!!!" the vicious noble roars, before missiling through the chandelier -- with or without her. The titanic drilling blow is cataclysmic, ripping the antique to pieces as he smashes through it, spraying the ground below with debris as he drives through it and smashes off of the wall haphazardly. If she comes with him, the stress, pain and ecstasy to her body just by his very proximity will be immense, let alone the havoc he wreaks. Either way, you will dance.

"Dance for me, pet. Dance as if I were the last one you will ever dance for..."

COMBATSYS: Kira Volkov fails to counter Negative Stolen from Demitri with Iron Grip EX.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Kira Volkov      1/=======/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2          Demitri

"Damnit... don't you ever... shut up?"

Kira hurls the rhetorical question back at her tormentor as he mocks and belittles her, seemingly more amused by her efforts to fight back than worried for his own safety. It isn't hard to tell that her wild attack was something that he allowed to happen rather than the product of her insane bravery and unpredictably. No effort was made to avoid the strike or cushion his fall as she latched on and slammed him to the floor.

It quickly becomes apparent why. Simply getting close to the demonic entity proves to be a dangerous act as the miasma of death hovering around him pours into her lungs. The metallic tang of blood hits her senses like a fresh dose of heroin injected straight into her veins. Even if she hadn't been planning to move aside, the sheer overwhelming flood of nauseating euphoria literally staggers her backwards.

And a good thing too. Demitri's body hits the ground and explodes like an overstuffed bag of flour, his essence spraying out in a thick misty wave. If getting touched only briefly by the edges of his aura was enough to nearly floor her, she shudders to think what might have happened had she been caught directly in the splash zone of that fel transformation.

Covering her face with the back of one hand to try and lessen her exposure to the vile stench of unholy power, Kira backpedals away, trying to keep the flowing oily tendrils harrying her feet from getting a firm hold on her. Her frantic scramble is of little use against the preternatural alacrity of the demon lord, however. Like a shadow flowing from one side of the room to the other, he flits after her, rising wraith-like from the floor to engulf her in his embrace yet again.

The mercenary fights back, of course. Though fear continues to run cold down her spine, she's crossed the threshold of being paralyzed by it. Fury and the desire to survive inoculates her against indecision now. As the dark lord sweeps his cape out to clutch her within its folds, she lunges at him again, one hand going out to try and seize the dark stalker about the wrist and use that momentum to hurl him past her in a calculated defensive throw.

This time her insolence is given no leeway. The shadowy folds of that living cloth ensnare her even as she moves to grab him, its fel strength easily overpowering her augmented muscles. She lets out a cry of alarm as she is drawn into that crushing grip but it takes only instants for proximity to his intoxicating presence to overwhelm her once more and she slumps loosely as the pair rocket towards the ceiling.

She vaguely remembers the moment of impact. Pain assaults her, fresh agony to mingle with the ocean that she is already drowning in. Shards of metal and crystal spear into her back as the ancient chandelier explodes. Though unable to pierce the protective weave of chainmail, they shred apart her suit with ease, leaving her even more battered and bloodied than before.

The collision with the wall is almost pleasant by comparison, even more so for the scattering of her thoughts as her skull smashes against the cold stone. For a few blissful moments it seems as if she might drift off into the void of unconsciousness. It would be so easy to just... drift away to a place where all of the pain and terror cannot reach her.

But no, such a cowardly way to die isn't something she can accept. Even if it hurts, even if she must suffer the arrogant posturing of this muscle-bound onion until the last, she will not stop fighting until her heart beats its last!

He crushes her in his captivating embrace, just before using her as the point of the hammer that smashes the walls and floor of the ballroom to pieces. Elaborate tapestries and cascading moulding pays the price for Rachel's indiscretion in battlegrounds, as Demitri's whirling passage ripples along and through the chandelier, sending bits of fey wood to smash into the ground all around, a row of tombstones before his pet, whom he carries with him the whole way, the only breath he allows her in her lungs being the mad mist, the blood that seeps into every pore, every thought, every idea. She can feel it now, as space and pain matter less and less. A great black thing, on the surface of her psyche, something that awakens, vast and hungry. And that hunger that only exists on the edge of euphoria is the only thing that matters. It rises, the black sun's corpse.

And the worst of it is that it is no longer clear which would be worse: if it is a feeling all her own, or her becoming slowly cognizant of the only thing that is truly important: the hunger that vampire lord Demitri feels for her and her alone.

Arcs of electric force crawl along her as he releases her body to the open dark, through the wreckage of the room. However, the room he throws her into is not the same as the room he took her from. It is the same ballroom, torn to shreds by his hand and her body. But the world no longer seems as immutable as it was only moments ago; for all of her KGB training in the world, what part of it trained her that gravity simply was not to be obeyed?

The vampire is there, only a breath away, though he remains wrapped in his dark cloak, trimmed in the enslaved moonlight he bears with him at all times. Even his fangs cannot be seen for the curve of his mantling, and his moon-touched eyes stare at her openly, and all of the places of her that he has claimed as his own. Even now, the dull ache of his mind's imposition threatens to consume her heartbeat at any moment, the memory of the brutal draught he took from her all anew. And yet, that could have been the end of it...

"Give in to the eternal promise," Demitri offers the silvered woman.
"You have been through so much," his soothing voice reminds her.

"Let me show you wonder, pet."

He sweeps his cloak wide, and a wall of energy consumes the room, drenching every surface in ill intent. At that moment, she will realize why it is so hard to stand on stable ground, and so easy to walk on the air. Demitri's spirit has already filled the room with his malintent, and with tha grandiose sweep of his cloak, he unmoors the cavernous ballroom from reality entirely.

The tables are gone, replaced by the frenetic dance of an endless midnight waltz. Noblemen and women from every corner of the world step into lock frame as they whirl around the pristine dancefloor, the old, ancient and darkened hall now bright and elegant as it never has since Carmilla's infatuations herself. The mirrors have all been repaired, their glass towering high overhead, as has the chandelier, casting starlight onto the floors as the guests whirl below them. Wine and romance flow freely below them, the only two in the room who haven't changed. Her, in her tatters and the last vestiges of her armor. Him, in his noble fineries with his dark promises of relief. He grins slowly, the slow knife-fanged grin of the ancient immortals, as reality itself bends and twists to his whim.

The mirrors show nothing but black.

"Come with me," Demitri invites, coming closer, "and know what forever tastes like."
For a sick, twisting moment, it is hard to differentiate his voice from Zhenya's.

All he needs to do is touch her for it to be over.

"Alucard was cruel to give you to me. But I only wish to be kind."

COMBATSYS: Demitri successfully hits Kira Volkov with #Midnight Bliss#.

[                                < >  /////////////////             ]
Kira Volkov      1/---<<<</<<<<<<<|-------\-------\0          Demitri

For all her resolve, there seems to be little the mortal can do to resist the whims of the dark prince. Though she struggles against his influence, its is like trying to escape from the undertow of a vast bottomless ocean. The vampire need exert no more effort to drag her down into the depths of that dark void than a black hole does to capture all that passes within its reach. Slowly but inevitably, all is drawn into that infinite darkness, and she is no exception.

She doesn't remember when exactly she notices the change come over her. So focused on her pitiful meaningless struggles, the black hunger of the vampire lord seems to blend with her own steadily growing desires until she can no longer differentiate the two. The gut-churning stench of blood, all that she is allowed to experience in such uncomfortable proximity to this avatar of undeath, suddenly takes on an entirely different aspect.

The nausea in her stomach twists and churns becoming a ravenous hunger that gnaws at the inside of her belly as if trying to feed upon her own flesh. The vile coppery tang of crimson vitae which had so repulsed her until now seems suddenly sweet and alluring, a heady aroma that utterly dwarfs the memory of any feast she's ever smelled before. She is suddenly reminded that it has been nearly ten hours since last she ate. She's never felt so hungry before in her life. Not even when she was a little girl, forced to eat bugs and grass as she stumbled lost and alone across the Chechen countryside in the wake of the unproved Russian attack on her home, has she ever felt this famished.

That sensation of wild hunger fades almost as quickly as it had come to her when she is pushed away from Demitri's foul embrace. She blinks in startled shock as she regains her wits, momentarily freed from the loathsome touch of his power upon her mind. Her teeth clench again, fresh revulsion threatening to make her retch at the thought of what she had been considering.

Yet, as much as it infuriates her, there is a part of her that longs for that euphoric sensation again. The weakness of her own humanity creeps up, insidious and alluring, whispering pleasant promises of release from all of the pain. All she has to do is stop fighting. What's the point? She can't kill this creature. There isn't anywhere for her to run to escape from him. Even if she did slip free from his grasp somehow, where would she go? Back into the endless halls of labyrinthine stone just to die of starvation and thirst?

Gods, she is so thirsty. Her throat constricts into a tight knot at the thought of some cool fresh water. But even that simple desire quickly becomes tainted by the corruption flowing through her. Within moments of conjuring the image to mind the water begins to grow darker and thicker, a brilliant scarlet hue spreading throughout. The sweet smell of something wonderful drifts across her senses again and this time she can't help but lust after it.

And then everything changes. She isn't in the darkened broken hall of some ancient decadent vampire noble any longer, alone and hurting. All around her the world fills with a glorious dazzling light and the sounds of jubilant celebration. Men and women dressed in finery the likes of which she has never seen indulge themselves in all manners of hedonistic pleasures, gorging themselves on succulent foods and wine and dancing without restraint to the sounds of an impossibly talented orchestra.

The laughter and merriment rolls over Kira like a wave of gentle warmth, washing away all of the aches and fear that had been threatening to break her apart. Her eyes grow unfocused and distant as she stares into the glamour all around her, the remnants of her will eroding piece by piece to the sound of an elegant waltz.

And yet, even now some small part of her quails with warning. There's something about this idyllic scenario that feels off, some part of all the feasting and merriment that just isn't right. Hadn't she been in danger only moments ago? Was she not fighting desperately to prevent some foul monstrosity from tearing her apart? She can't seem to remember, her mind a muddled mess of hazy half-formed thoughts.

Glancing idly to one side, her gaze comes across one of the vast mirrors. Though the surfaces show naught but black voids she suddenly lets out a sharp gasp of surprise as if only just now realizing what is wrong. Just look at her! She's an absolute mess! The remains of her expensive suit hang like shredded rags from her body. Her hair is greasy and wild, stained with still drying smears of some dark foul substance. And what is this armor doing here? She can't wear this to a ball...

A soft voice comes to her from behind and Kira slowly turns to look. Blinding light forces her to cover her eyes for a few moments but when she lowers her hand again the familiar form of an old friend stands before her, lovely and radiant in a dress that seems composed entirely out of light.


Zhenya smiles at her, her expression as beautiful as ever, and holds a slender hand out towards the battered woman.

"Come with me..." she says, her voice soft and gentle like clouds. "And know what forever tastes like."

Kira falters for a moment, the final desperate attempt to wrest free from the enchantment slowly squeezing the life out of her. And then she reaches out and places her hand in Demitri's with a faint smile, gazing longingly into those endless pools of pale moonlight.

"Yes... I want that."

COMBATSYS: Kira Volkov takes no action.

                                  >  /////////////////             ]
                                  |-------\-------\0          Demitri

COMBATSYS: Kira Volkov can no longer fight.

                                  >  /////////////////             ]
                                  |-------\-------\0          Demitri

It's interesting, how mutable and subjective the world becomes at the hands of the immortals.

The world, for mortals, was a hard and unyielding wall. It was a cliff upon which forlorn maidens dashed themselves against, night after night. She could not change the circumstances of her birth, nor the circumstances of her death, no matter how hard she tried. A skull of so much thickness that meets a rock at so many miles per hour at so many degrees in angle will always break. The wind does not care, nor does the stone, and neither are of a mind to move for you. This is the nature of the human condition, the nature of 'mortality.' Stone rules that cannot be broken, and will not be broken. No matter which fall techniques you learn, or how tough you make your body, if it is your time, your head will always be dashed open on the rocks, and nothing will change that.

But in the grip of the vampire lord, there is nothing that cannot be changed, given enough of his infatuous prides and attentions. He gives this woman everything, in the long run, as the terminus of their fatal dance. His tongue runs along his hand, the small cut inflicted with the vorpal knife there not having yet healed. She has drawn his blood, as she has so many demons of the night before. For the latter, she has earned the enmity of the demon world. For the former, she has earned his interest. 'For a mortal to draw the blood of a vampire lord.. there is no greater affront to the nobles!'

And it is in the light of this crime, that he gives her everything.

Her hand has never been softer. Touching Zhenya felt right, the slender black-haired woman with the piercing eyes whom saw more of her friend's soul than she could ever truly share with her. The moment is impossibly brief, as her smile lights the way for the beaten and broken mercenary lord. "Were you expecting black?" she asks her flatly, of the dress she wears, a vaguely pleasant edge of coquettish irony to her - unrelenting, brutal - voice.

Kira's heart will beat faster the longer she holds Zhenya's hand in the twisted ball. The dream whirls around her in a pace that is beyond the mortal realm's comprehension, dancers who never grew up in a blasted ruinscape whirling, people never told that they couldn't fly dancing through the air below. Below, women dance with men and women alike, as the Countess Karnstein knew no barriers in her infatuations, and the bacchanal glee is given to each in turn. Even now, a touch of the trend comes to her, as Kira will find herself quickly stripped of all her pretenses. All of her armor matters for nothing the moment she puts her hand in -- his -- for the night is her tailor.

As Zhenya asks her if black is her preference (?), the noble dark climbs along Kira's flesh, as impossibly warm as it could ever be. Somewhere along the line, she may realize it is because her skin is growing colder by the moment. The black tailor does away with the scar, the hair, the armor, what remains of her suit. In a blink, she is swathed in fineries to befit the moment, all dark eyes and a long floor-length black gown swirling into being around her, festooned and mantled with delicate amethyst and crystal in lace panels along her bodice, to show what she would normally protect. Unlike the others, slits climb up the legs and the fabric pools about her shoulders in a drawn-back hood. The dress was made to hide her from the light, but not the night. The sacrificial dress terminates in a set of heeled boots, small lockets securing them tightly at the ankles. Even her body is a facet of vanity, years and ages of old scars and wounds draining away from ice cold skin, the verve of youth replacing what was once -!- filling her veins. "This suits you, pet..." -

"Imagine," Zhenya remarks, her gentle voice impossibly mild, sweet even to the ears of a woman dying of thirst. "Being granted peace, a world free from the pain, the agony of mortal toys and interests." She draws Kira close, strength and warmth as familiar to Kira as her own body, as if they shared blood. She'll feel her heartbeat slow, surrounded by beauty, and mirrors that show only black. It is almost impossible to escape.

"Dance with me," Demitri breathes, "and never stop."

The black creature fills the ballroom, visible to Kira only in the mirrors that depict another world entirely. In it, she is still part of the dance, for everything around her is real. But the woman who brings her close enough to share breath is not the thing that holds her in sway in the mirrors. It is a vast, black demon, who conforms her body to his will alone. A demon who hoists her powerlessly over him in the midst of the ball, as his fangs find her bared throat, as all of her blood leaves her and becomes part of him. It is this sensation that her dying heart reminds her of, the growing ice cold sensation over her body is her dying in one withering draught. There is nothing she can do, from the moment she took her lover's hand. And as she dies in the mirror, he makes good on all of the promises he made.

Bloodstains from nowhere crawl up her thighs in a horrific pattern of violence and pain as the thirst and the ecstasy build. As their faces meet in the dream, so too does Kira die in the world outside of her mind, her blood spraying the ballroom dancers below as they continue, unabated in their mad dance and glee. Unheeded, unbidden, so too does the ecstasy crawl through her, the writhing climax of being murdered by the vampire lords finding light in every part of her body.

"It is as I said."
In her final heartbeat, Demitri will throw her free, the pleasures of death being supplanted by an abominable thirst that can only be sated by one thing and one thing only. It is a cruelty that he assures she can never find it. As he sets her free with a final dark gift, the world shifts, turns, and warps end over end. Part of it is Demitri reasserting what he desires to be true. Part of it is her body trying to tell her what is happening. He'll set her free, surely, leaving her to die there on the ballroom floor. Except that the room that he floats in is now empty.

He casts her free into a world inside the mirrors, where the dance has ended.
A cold world, filled only with the thirst.

"Your entire traitorous existence has been at the pleasure of the immortals," Demitri hisses, his cloak wrapped around him once more. "Experience eternity lost in a labyrinth inside of a labyrinth. Die again and again, knowing you wasted a life better spent serving me...!!"

Charged and convicted by her dark judge, the hunter continues to float in a prison of her own mind, blissfully unaware of the fate that awaits her. She all but melts into the soft arms of the other woman, that gentle familiar caress a balm upon her wounded flesh and soul. To the outside world, Zhenya is a silent dangerous predator, an insidious shadow that always seems to know precisely when and where to show up to keep her brash and reckless master safe. But to Kira she is so much more than that; a trustworthy friend in a world of vipers, an anchor upon which to lean, a lover with whom she can share her most intimate moments of weakness.

That unwavering trust is turned against her in the most perfidious and vile manner possible. Cloaked in the form of the one she trusts the most, Kira's mind willingly abandons any attempt to try and fight back against the comforting glamour of the endless waltz. Zhenya would never betray her. She would never try to lead her astray or do her any harm. With that single rock solid fact firmly rooted in her thoughts, the mercenary entrusts herself fully to the dazzling woman in front of her as she has done so many times before.

"Black? Yes, of course... you know that's my favorite color."

Kira smiles and blushes like a girl at prom as she takes a step back to look at herself once more. Gone are the tattered rags and gleaming chainmail, evidence of her futile struggle against a force she couldn't possible hope to overcome. Gone are the scars, both real and engineered, washed away in a wave of ghostly midnight as decades of hard unforgiving mortal life are peeled away as easily as pairing an old bruised apple of its skin to get at the succulent juicy flesh beneath.

The woman lets out a soft gasp of surprise, squeezing her eyes shut as the dark ichor engulfs her body. Though its touch is impossibly pleasant and warm, the source of that warmth seems to come from her own essence. Like one big living parasitic organism, the darkness siphons away at her life force. All of the hate and rage, all of the joy and love, all of the fear and sadness, everything that is a vital part of who she is, it devours it all greedily to feed an insatiable demonic hunger.

And in its place it leaves another impossibility.

The girl that opens her eyes seems like a different person entirely. Devoid of the years of struggle and warfare necessary to drag her to the top of the mortal food chain, Kira is a soft pale reflection of what could have been. A slender body unmarred by blemishes or the hard toned bulges of taut muscle fills out an elegant dress of midnight silk, free from the need for disguises and armaments. Like the carefree ghosts of decadent nobility that laugh and sway all around them, she seems somehow innocent and naive, a girl who has lived a life sheltered from the pain and sorrow of mortal existence.

"It does, doesn't it?"

Kira titters in a voice that might have been hers had that girlish innocence not been stolen away from her by the cruel fires of war those many years ago. She spins in place, never letting go of Zhenya's hand, and the elegant fabric of the midnight gown fans out around her like the petals of a flower revealing the soft slender shape of her legs. As if jealously protective of that delicate flesh the gown quickly falls back into place and molds itself to her form in a manner that is suggestive of the debaucheries still unfolding throughout the hall.

"Ah...! Since when were you this bold, Z?"

Leaning once again into the arms of her lover, Kira snuggles up tightly to her chest, letting out a soft sigh of pleasure at the thought of this moment lasting for all eternity. The steady rhythm of her slowing heart echoes in the girl's ears like the ticking of a metronome as it winds down towards the final beat, marking off each precious second of life with a soft but resounding thump.

"Yes... let's dance forever, Z..."

Lost in the beautiful illusion of her demonic captor, the young girl offers no resistance as the last vestiges of life are drained away from her still warm flesh. Her blood flows freely from the still gaping wound at her neck, pouring all of that tantalizing crimson life into the hungry maw of the vampire lord. He takes it all and leaves nothing behind but a cold empty corpse.

And she loves every second of it. Writhing in pleasure unlike anything a mortal could ever give her, the young girl fills the room with the sound of her soft but needy moans. Her arms lift up to embrace the devil, wrapping around his neck sensuously to draw him closer as she might a lover.

Yet, all too soon, that wild ecstasy suddenly starts to turn to need. Her thirst returns in a sudden burning rush, flooding outwards from some dark pit inside of her to fill the void left by her dwindling warmth. Her eyes go wide in sudden shock and fear as she cast away, torn free not only from the comforting embrace but the very lies that had shrouded them from her gaze.

The music stops. The lights fade. The dancers vanish, leaving not even a faint trace of the jovial laughter behind. All that remains is darkness and dust, a shadow realm devoid of even the barest speck of warmth or pleasure, leaving her with nothing but the cold... and the hunger.

Within one of the elegant frames, the girl pushes to her feet, a look of timid fear on her face as she sweeps her wide eyes around the empty room. After a few moments, she seems to notice something, her gaze locking on the reflective surface of the mirror. Tentatively she works her way around the scattered and forgotten chairs and tables, kicking up small clouds of dust as she works her way towards the foreground.

Only when she finally stands but a few inches away from the other side of the glass does the truth seem to hit her. Her doe-like eyes widen even further and she hurls herself at the pane as if hoping to simply smash through it and emerge from the other side. But the mirror proves unnaturally resilient, ringing out with hollow thumps as the newly born vampire slams into it.

A sudden look of rage twists her youthful face into an ugly mask, crimson eyes flashing as she bares a pair of small adorable fangs. One fist draws back, slamming into the surface of the mirror with unholy strength fueled by hate and hunger but the impact doesn't even seem to rattle the glass. Again and again, she hammers away at the mirror's surface until her perfect skin starts to crack and split apart leaving the bone exposed beneath.

Realization slowly dawns over Kira's face as to the nature of her fate, her sire's haunting words seeming to echo over and over in the vast emptiness of her private eternal prison. She collapses to her knees, the bloody midnight dress pooling around her. Her head drops into her hands and she starts to weep. Yet there are no tears, not even ones of blood, as there is not even enough left of the once mighty warlord for that.

They dance for her, just on the other side of the mirror, where the real world was left behind, where she can never go again.

Though much rumors have been made in the mortal world of vampire glamour and the life of an enchantment, the truth of it is that the vampire lord Maximoff's powers are at his will alone, and to call his power illusion is an insult punishable by death. The dancers he conjured would dance until he saw fit. The countess' ball would never end as long as he continued to give it the barest breath of his consent. That is why he and he alone deserves to be the master of the demon world. They dance because he commands it.

They dance for her, even though she smashes her hands into the mirror's surface.
They dance, even when she collapses.
They dance, no matter how hard she weeps.
Even long after the vampire lord takes his leave, they dance.

Even long after the mirror's reflection fades, they will dance, to remind his young Minthe that her future could have been so much more.

Log created on 19:04:57 06/04/2021 by Demitri, and last modified on 22:12:09 06/06/2021.